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Question #1
Hi Dr John, I was recently told that I have some calcium deposits in my heart. Do you know what causes these are they harmful? Thank you, Audrey

Answer
Most likely this is referring to calcium deposits in the coronary arteries, the arteries supplying blood to the heart. When these blood vessels get clogged off a person suffers a heart attack. Calcium is a necessary body mineral but it's not healthy to have a calcium build up inside a blood vessel. But calcium can start to build up in blood vessels because of health issues like smoking, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. It can also join with other substances in the blood vessel to build up even more. And when it builds up enough it can cut off the blood supply to part of the heart, resulting in a heart attack. A calcium scan is used as a screening tool and gives a good idea of how much calcium is inside those arteries supplying the blood to the heart. If they seem to have excessive amounts of calcium further tests can be done to determine if that will become a health issue in the future.

Question #2
Hello Dr. About 4 years ago I noticed when I went outside in the cold or even down the freezer section at the grocery store that my hands, nose, face, etc would swell and turn red! I have never gone to the dr for this. Would u recommend I go? I have just figured that I'm allergic to the cold. Well I live in the wrong state for that! I have researched it online and I have seen it called Physical Uticaria (sp). Please help! Thank you! Jen

Answer
Although this might seem a bit odd it's something that can happen. It's called "cold urticaria" and is basically the bodies reaction to the cold. It's essentially an allergy to the cold and a person suffering from this develops hives whenever exposed to cold temperatures whether it's the weather outside, cold water or even the cold refrigerators in grocery stores. If exposed to a lot of cold, like swimming in cold water, a person can even suffer from an anaphylactic reaction, which can be very serious or even fatal. Wearing warm clothing, especially on the head and hands, can help reduce the symptoms from cold urticaria. So too can over the counter allergy medications, especially the non-sedating antihistamines like Allegra, Zyrtec, Claritin and their generic equivalents. If these medications don't seem to be doing the trick there are other medicines your doctor can prescribe, like doxepin, that can help in some cases.

Question #3
I read something recently about the bacteria that is harbored in a pacifier. Would you please address this? Thank you, Marsha

Answer
This story came out recently about how just how much lives on a babies pacifier. Researchers found large amounts of bacteria, fungus and even mold on some pacifiers. But experts don't really know if that means much at all, especially since this has been going on since pacifiers have been around and babies aren't getting sick every time they stick one in their mouth. But they also agree that it's best to make sure you do what you can to keep that pacifier clean. That means if it's dropped on the floor replace it with another one until it can be thoroughly cleaned. Some experts also recommend cleaning it every day with a denture cleaning agent and throwing used pacifiers out after 2 weeks of use. That'll ensure that whatever is building up on that pacifier doesn't get passed on to the baby using it.